Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Two baptisms and St. Patrick's Day

This morning as I look outside my window I see white, fluffy clouds (nothing new there) and spots of blue shining through. I thrive on those spots of blue. The gray days are very difficult for me. But let's focus on what we have in front of us, shall we? 

Last Saturday we had a baptism of two middle-aged men, one black, one white. One from Congo, one from Ireland. It was a special day and very joyous. Here are some pictures:

These men were both taught by the sisters. Michael Phelan had been taught previously, but just wasn't ready to commit. However, this time around he felt much more assured and was able to go forward. Zacharie Loukombo's biggest obstacle was smoking and it was very hard for him to quit, but he knows it was the Holy Spirit who helped him gain the strength and now he says he has no craving for cigarettes. What a wonderful miracle that is!

This coming Saturday we have another baptism.This time it is a mother of two young children. She is also from Congo, but we don't know if she (Crystal Rusine) and Zacharie know each other yet. Obviously, we are hopeful that they will fall in love and form a beautiful family. However, we don't know how much older Zacharie is than Crystal, so we'll just see what happens. Crystal's' mother and sister have been baptized previously, but Crystal knows the truth now and is ready to commit herself. 

In the picture at the bottom it is Elder Johnson (serving in Cork) and Elder Evans (serving in Waterford) who did the baptisms. Elder Evans served as an extra support for Michael so that he wouldn't bump his head on the way down in the very small font.

Crystal's baptism will take place in Lough Ballyscanlon (Ballyscanlon Lake) which is in Tramore. It's trickier to get to the water, but really a beautiful spot.

Crystal has been an amazing investigator for the elders. When they taught her the lesson about fasting, she told them that this is something she already practices to get closer to the Spirit. When they asked her if knew the Book of Mormon to be true, she told them she had had a dream in which an angel came to her and told her it was true. We have been amazed at the number of African people who are being taught here in Ireland and how readily they are accepting the gospel. There was a large article in the Ensign magazine a month or two back about how willing Africans are to accept the truth and I know first hand that this is true.

One other thing I wanted to mention was the St. Patrick's Day parade. We were actually able to attend the parade here in Waterford with the junior missionaries. It was a beautiful day. I will attach some pictures. I wanted to add a video of the bagpipers below, but it's on my iPhone and I don't know how to do it. Ah, well.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Help for those of you searching your Irish genealogy

This is a slightly different entrance to my blog, but, if you are doing Irish genealogy, I can pretty much guarantee you will be interested in this. 

Elder Walker and I were at a conference in Limerick on Tuesday, March 18th, and there I met a man, John O'Connell, who is participating in a program called "Ireland Reaching Out" or "Ireland XO". At this point in my dialog you might want to typing these words into Google and bring up the website. The purpose of this website is to help people who are searching for their ancestors in Ireland - and the help is coming to you at no cost directly from people who live here and are wanting to help you. Some of these people are LDS, others are not, but they are all deeply interested in genealogy and want to help people outside of Ireland to find their ancestors. 

When I met John, part of my wanting to be in Limerick that day was to try to talk to one or more Catholic priests in one of the five major cathedrals in Limerick City. The great irony is that he had met with a woman just the day before who was ALSO looking for her Roche ancestors. SHE told HIM that all the Roches in Ireland had come from two Roche brothers who had been born in France and had emigrated to Counties Cork and Kerry. These to counties lie directly below County Limerick, so it's easy to see how their descendants could have moved into that county and thereby becoming MY ancestors.

Besides the "Ireland XO" website, John also taught me how to find an unknown wife's name (which, by the way, was exactly what I needed) by going into (which is a paid website, but a very good one) and, after selecting "marriage", on the First Name line typing "%%%", then Spouse's Surname "__________", followed by Spouse's First Name "%%%" or the actual name, if you know it. Also, select the county, if you know it. Sure enough, I brought up about 10 possible names for the wife of my Patrick Roche. Now I can just narrow down that search. Ten is a lot better number that some of the huge numbers I have found previously!

Another way to search for your ancestors in Ireland, if you know what county they hail from is to do a google search on "name" genealogy county "_____". This should bring up some good websites for that particular county. In my case, "Roche genealogy county limerick" brought up six good sites.

Anyway, I was anxious to let my blog followers know about this new information I had learned and I'm hopeful that I will hear from some of you and that we can further help each other. Here is the information about the Irish website and about the broadcasts that Ireland is doing in conjunction with it:

Tar Abhaile ('Come Home')

Hosted by broadcaster Evelyn O’Rourke, Tar Abhaile is a new and inspirational six part series on TG4 that follows local Irish communities as they welcome people from across the globe in search of their Irish ancestors.

Instead of waiting for people of Irish origin to trace their roots, groups of community volunteers tirelessly work together under the auspice of Ireland Reaching Out (or: Ireland XO) to trace those individuals and families who left their local area throughout the 1800’s and 1900’s.  Once they have gathered enough tangible information, they then track down their living descendants and reach out, inviting them back to their spiritual home, to share local knowledge, walk the land of their ancestors, show them their final resting places and where possible, introduce them to long-lost living relatives.  

Over six weeks, the audience will be introduced to 12 different Irish descendants and their families, scattered all over the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK, as they travel to Ireland to reconnect with their Irish roots.  But first we visit each of them to see where and how they live in their respective homelands, but, more importantly, to find out what motivates them to visit Ireland, their ancestral home.  Once they travel over and meet the volunteers who helped them unearth the story of their ancestors, their emotional journey begins.

For the descendants, it proves time and time again to be an extremely moving and humbling experience: as the stories of their forefathers are revealed to them; they walk in the footsteps of their ancestors, visit the homesteads where they lived or bow their heads at their graves… and it often brings a tear to the eye as they gain new insight into their ancestors and they become so much more than just a name on a page.  But nothing beats the experience of meeting living relatives, very often cousins they never knew they even had. 

What really sets Tar Abhaile apart is that it deals with 'living genealogy', bringing it out of the past and giving it a living present as local communities turn 'sleuth', with emotional family reunions taking place and long-lost relatives discovered and uncovered.

Ultimately, Tar Abhaile is about real people and their unique stories, their unique journey and their unique connection with Ireland. It pivots on Reconnection, Reunion and Homecoming.

Happy hunting to all my fellow genealogist-wannabes!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

3 11 2014 Dunbrody ship in New Ross; Waterford Crystal; missionary work

Once again it's been about three weeks between posts. I think I sense a theme.

To keep your interest, I want to tell you about a couple of "field trips" that we've taken the junior missionaries on. The first was to the Dunbrody famine ship in New Ross, Co. Wexford. The second was just yesterday to Waterford Crystal.

Seven years ago, when we first came to Ireland, we happened upon a replica of the Dunbrody "famine" ship which was reportedly commissioned by President Kennedy when he visited Ireland in 1962 (?). Since we were very interested in everything famine-related, we took the tour, and learned a lot from it. Because of this initial experience, we wanted to share it with Elder Coombs, especially, because he was very close to finishing up his mission. So we took him, Elder Zander, and the Sisters - Henkel and Montgomery to see the ship.

These pictures were taken outside the tour building and before we entered the ship itself. Aren't they cute?? Everyone's proud of their home town.

The outside of the ship

The inside of the ship, with Elder Coombs threatening to eat the brick-hard bread and Elder Zander questioning his decision.

Topside again, happy to be spending time together.

I think this really was an educational experience for them and helped them to recognize a little better part of the "baggage" that Irish people carry in their ancestry.

So that was about three weeks ago, and then just yesterday we went with the sisters to see the "new" Waterford Crystal Factory, which was up and running in June 2010 after having shut down in 2008 for economic reasons.

We feel so blessed to be able to spend time with these fine young men and women. When we're not field-tripping, there is a lot of hard work going on. Between the two companionships, they currently have four baptisms lined up over the next month. We couldn't be prouder of them and the high standard they set for us and for everyone who knows them.